5 out of 5
Produced by: Rob Servera
Polar Goldie Cats: same as they ever was and will be, but perhaps at their best here.
From the moment I first heard PGC’s death march – and yet somehow playful – instrumentals, of syncopated guitar playing and slow, plodding drums with occasional stumbles into hurried, flurried rumbles (excuse the unintentional rhyme…), I was hooked, and figured it was a sound that everyone was desperate to hear. But somewhat blase reviews and an inability to turn new listeners on seemed to suggest that people preferred their instrumental music with some kind of other ‘hook,’ like pretty strings or build-and-release tactics. I can’t fault them, but I do: you’re idiots. PGC are fantastic.
On other albums, the tendency to push their sound further afield or, sometimes, to stick too close to their path, can limit the effect; Polar Night Stress bounces back and forth between their “standard” steady pace, brilliantly chilling and almost minimalist and horrific ambience (L. Machina), long form slowburns that should’ve appealed to those tortoise and Godspeed! fans – although done up in a particular Polar style that gives no hint toward its progression until its totally upon you – and then wonderfully herky-jerky relative rockouts where gentle note tweaking turns into muted scrapes and somber drumming becomes tribal. The disc rocks back and forth ‘tween all this at, to me, a perfect rhythm, so that the sound is ultimately familiar and satisfying, but also surprising from track to track.
The group has tip-toed across releases over the years, and they’re all varying degrees of phenomenal, ya jerks. Perhaps their ascendancy to relative acclaim will take the same patient pace as their playing style. I’ll be here, promoting the next album, waiting for that to happen.